Reyes' talent on display for Tribe in 2-HR game

Designated hitter forces 10th inning with tying 3-run blast

August 26th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- experienced his first heroic moment in an Indians uniform, launching a three-run homer to tie the game in the ninth inning. But the Tribe’s bullpen allowed that euphoria to last only a few moments.

Cleveland’s offense had tied it in the seventh and then overcame a four-run deficit in the ninth, but both times the relief corps -- which has posted the best ERA in Major League Baseball this season -- couldn’t hold the Royals in a 9-8 loss on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.

“That’s a hard game to win and we had a chance,” manager Terry Francona said. “Kind of uncharacteristically our bullpen kind of kept giving up runs, but that’s a tough game to come back from.”

The Tribe knotted the game at 3 in the seventh, but Nick Wittgren and Phil Maton combined to give up five runs (three earned) in two-thirds of an inning. But just as the game seemed out of reach, Reyes launched a solo shot in the eighth and Francisco Lindor added a solo homer in the ninth to cut the deficit to three. Then, with two out in the ninth, Reyes came back up to the plate.

“Since the eighth inning, I saw [Ian Kennedy] warming up and I started to look at the videos and try to look to see what pitches he used,” Reyes said. “And the only pitches I saw were cutters and fastballs. When I got [in the box], the first pitch I saw was a slider, so I decided to take the next pitch to see what he got. It was a straight fastball right in the middle.

“Then, I got prepared for those two pitches. I forgot about the slider because I knew he was not gonna use it at all after that one, and got the pitch right there right in the middle and put a good swing on it. Not try to do too much.”

Reyes didn’t choose “La Mole” for his Players’ Weekend nickname for nothing. In English, it translates to “massive,” and for someone 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, he showed just how dangerous that size can be. He blasted a three-run homer a projected 423 feet, according to Statcast, to force extra innings.

“Honestly, it was one of the best moments in my life, not my career,” Reyes said. “It was great. Just turning at second base and look to the dugout how everybody was fired up. It was a crazy moment.”

It may have taken a few weeks, but the Indians are starting to see Reyes’ talent that they traded for. From his first game in Cleveland on Aug. 1 through the Yankees series last weekend, Reyes had hit .156 with a .470 OPS. When the Tribe went to play the Mets at Citi Field, the designated hitter was out of the starting lineup for all three games, which allowed him to figure out some answers.

“I got time to work a lot on my things, see a lot of videos of what I was doing,” Reyes said. “Something that I recognized was that I was going to get the ball too much in front. I recognized myself that I just need to get the barrel on the ball and I know it’s going to be hard.”

The slugger logged a hit in each of the first two games of the three-game set against the Royals before going 2-for-5 with two homers in the finale.

“If Reyes gets hot, it’s a bat that’s not going to get hot with singles,” Francona said.

But his tying home run only got his team to one extra frame, after Nick Goody gave up a leadoff homer to Ryan O’Hearn -- his second blast of the day -- in the top of the 10th that prevented a Tribe sweep.

“[Reyes] can do a lot and he did that today, just the offense in general, the way we battled back today,” Indians starter Shane “Not Justin” Bieber said. “There’s a lot of highs and lows in a season and we’re not playing the type of baseball that we know we can, but to be able to see that kind of fight, not just from one guy but from everybody is big, so we’ll take this day off tomorrow and progress going forward, and have a good road trip.”